OnePlus Nord Buds Review: A good balance of price and performance

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OnePlus Nord Buds Review: A good balance of price and performance

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  • OnePlus launched latest TWS buds under the Nord moniker
  • OnePlus Nord buds come at a price of ₹2,799
  • Nord Buds feature 12.4 mm drivers
OnePlus recently launched the Nord Buds TWS earbuds alongside the Nord CE 2 Lite and the OnePlus 10R in India. The announcement included a couple of firsts for the company as it launched its cheapest smartphone after the OnePlus X and new affordable earbuds under the Nord moniker.

We are focusing on the Nord Buds in this one, but you can read my review of the Nord CE 2 Lite 5G.

OnePlus has been launching audio products for quite some time. So far we have seen the OnePlus Bullets, Bullets Wireless, Buds, OnePlus Buds Z, and OnePlus Bullets Z2 neckband. This product, however, comes with a new approach.
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Introducing an audio product under the Nord branding shows we will see a Xiaomi-Redmi situation here as well. So, is this product right to begin this new inning? Keep reading to find out.

Price & Availability
The OnePlus Nord Buds are available for a price of ₹2,799 and can be bought from Amazon.in or official OnePlus stores.
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Design & Build
OnePlus Nord Buds sticks to a rather traditional design when it comes to the case. The boxy case with me is in marble white color, which feels premium. However, it is prone to scratches if you carry it in your pockets. In terms of form factor, the case is ergonomic and you can carry it around without any issue, even with the buds inside.

OnePlus Nord Buds Review: A good balance of price and performance
OnePlus Nord Buds in marble white color.

Other design characteristics include a Type-C charging port and set-up button which is rather interesting. The availability of a dedicated set-up button does make it easy to pair your devices quickly. There is also an LED upfront that indicates charging or pairing. Like I said the design is traditional, but the execution in smaller size is commendable.

Moving on to the Buds, smaller than the previous iterations from OnePlus like the Buds Z, they are just about the right size. Lightweight at 4 grams a bud, they are comfortable when you put them on. That being said they have a snug fit and don't feel cheap. I used them while working out and even running, and they held on to my ears without getting loose.
OnePlus Nord Buds Review: A good balance of price and performance
Nord Buds have a snug fit.


I have been using them with the silicone ear tips we get out of the box, and so far they have not disappointed at all. OnePlus does bundle in 3 pairs of extra ear tips of different sizes, so finding your favorable fit shouldn't be a problem.
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The Buds with me come in a white and silver shade that looks subtle. While the looks are subjective I like them as they are. The silver trim is actually where you find the touch-sensitive sensors. Rightly placed the position is favorable, how do they perform? The answer is in the performance section.

Performance

Pairing and connectivity
Let me start this section with pairing. The Nord Buds can be connected to your devices conventionally like any Bluetooth accessory or you can use the OnePlus fast pair.
OnePlus Nord Buds Review: A good balance of price and performance
Nord Buds' case has an LED indicator for pairing


I connected the Nord Buds first using OnePlus’s proprietary function and it worked like a charm.

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Seamless and quick, the Buds were ready to go in a blink of an eye. However, we do have to note that the OnePlus fast pair works by default in OnePlus smartphones. If you have any other Android smartphone, then you need to download the OnePlus melody app. The pairing using this method is also fairly smooth. Unfortunately, the app is not available on iOS. So if you are buying them to use with an iPhone then take a note.

That being said, why bother? The application does not help you tweak the bud's performance, so why not simply pair it using Bluetooth. That’s what I did, and that wasn't too slow either.

Unfortunately, the Buds don’t support multi-device pairing, a feature I feel is important today. Working from home users switch between their phones and laptops frequently, making it a sought after feature. I thoroughly missed it during my testing. The saving grace is the individual pairing function since you can use an individual bud while the other remains in the case.

Gestures

Once paired with the dedicated device, the Buds managed to impress me with their hands-on usability. With the perfect size, I could easily reach out to them to pick up calls or interact with my media player. Talking about interaction, the Buds feature touch-sensitive controls which are surprisingly good. Coming in with dedicated gestures, a single tap plays or pauses your media, double-tap is used to answer phone calls. While a triple tap will switch forward or backwards in your playlist or wake voice assistant.
OnePlus Nord Buds Review: A good balance of price and performance
Nord Buds have touch sensitive sensors


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So far in my one week of usage, the Buds have not missed out on a single touch command. The gestures are easy to learn as well, and you will get used to them quickly especially if you are a first-time user.

I do wish there was a gesture to change volume levels from the buds as well. It’s something I sorely missed since I had to reach out to my device for changing the volume levels.

Audio performance

That brings me to the actual acoustic performance of the buds. I started with some colorful Bollywood music, loud and clear the output was rather impressive and surpassed my expectations. The 12.4 mm drivers deliver bassy audio output on songs for both higher and lower volume frequencies.


I kept the music level at the 50-60% mark throughout my testing since anything above that felt too loud.

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This performance can also be attributed to the Dolby atmos support on board. Allowing spatial sound, the experience imitates a surround sound experience. I thoroughly enjoyed its presence especially while watching content.

With 10 meters of range, I could plug my phone in for charging and be connected to it at the same time, this does give you a sense of liberation.

You can also take phone calls using the buds and so far the experience has been just about - okay. The Buds feature 4 microphones for filtering out the noise while taking calls, and it does work. The caller on the other end was not troubled by the background noise around me.

However, it was the primary microphone that gave up on me sometimes. It worked really well when the paired device was nearby. But a distance of over 5 meters would mean the audio output from the mic would be affected.

Battery

With that, it’s time to talk about the battery life of the Buds. OnePlus claims that this entire package promises a battery life of 30-hours, whereas the Buds deliver 7 hours of music playback time.
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OnePlus Nord Buds Review: A good balance of price and performance
OnePlus Nord buds support fast charging


The real number is close to this. During my week of testing where the Buds were my primary audio device, I was getting mileage of 5 hours on the Buds, while the case gave me 4 full charges on the Buds. That means 25 hours of total playback time. These are not bad numbers given the performance, price and size.

The Buds also support the flash charge, and yes there is a red cable bundled along to remind you of the same. As per the claim, 10 minutes of charging will give you 5 hours of backup in the case. The real number in 3-4 hours given the charger you are using. I used Nord CE 2 Lite’s 35W superVOOC charger for the test. This mileage is also satisfactory if you ask me.

Verdict
Nord Buds offer a combination of satisfactory audio performance and easy useability packed into one at an affordable price. At a time when the TWS segment is in high demand, this product is a strong recommendation if you are on a budget. But if you seek out features like multi-device connectivity and better battery life then there are more options in the market. Or if you need noise-canceling, then you might need to shell out a little more cash.

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